Microsoft, Sony unveil what's new for video gamers at E3 in LA

A Playstation Vita is presented at the Sony Playstation media briefing on the eve of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) on June 6, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
A Playstation Vita is presented at the Sony Playstation media briefing on the eve of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) on June 6, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew/Getty Images

The Electronics Entertainment Expo, which begins Tuesday in Los Angeles, is the annual convention of the video game industry. On Monday, there were a few pregame news conferences, including big ones from Microsoft and Sony.

The Electronics Entertainment Expo is the annual gathering of the video game industry. An event that was once open to the public, E3 became invitation-only in 2007. It draws video game companies, manufacturers, analysts, media and other entertainment professionals and investors from more than 80 countries, which gather for three days of product demonstrations for video game consoles, handheld devices, computers and tablets.

Microsoft kicked off E3 Eve in the morning with some new Xbox 360 features and games, including the use of voice-activated search via Bing, the company's search engine. It'll sort through Netflix and Hulu Plus, as well as YouTube and other sites. Now you can sit on your couch and literally tell your TV what to do — without the burden of having to lift your hand and use a remote control.

Perhaps the biggest announcement from Microsoft was the premiere of the trailer for the next installment of the Halo video game series. The Halo release (holiday 2012) was announced at the very end of Microsoft's presentation, after a slew of games and new innovations with the company's motion-sensor Kinect technology were demonstrated.

Monday evening was all about Sony.

Having been targeted by hackers repeatedly, Sony began its much-anticipated news conference on E3 Eve with an apology. Jack Tretton, the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, apologized to customers, video game developers and retailers. He also offered a wink to the media, saying "you're welcome" — adding that he knows reporters and editors have appreciated all the news. Still, Tretton said activity on the PlayStation Network is up to 90 percent of what it was before the data breach that hit 70 million user accounts.

With the apologies out of the way, the company moved on to showcase a slew of 3-D products and games. There will be a new product bundle that includes a 24-inch 3-D display and 3-D glasses — perfect, Sony said, for a frat house or a man cave. During a game demo of NBA 2K12, Kobe Bryant took the stage — taking on the Miami Heat. Of course, this being the Lakers backyard, Kobe was greeted as the hometown hero, despite his spotty skills with the PlayStation Move controller.

Sony's biggest news was its new handheld device, the PlayStation Vita. It's the next-generation PSP (PlayStation Portable) and will sell for $249.99 (Wi-Fi-only) and $299.99 (Wi-Fi/3G).

On Tuesday, the big news is expected to come from Nintendo, when it unveils its next-generation Wii console.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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